Verizon CEO: Calls, texts hitting Mother's Day levels amid coronavirus outbreak

While the network overall has seen 'moderate growth,' usage 'patterns have changed dramatically,' Hans Vestberg says

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said daily cell-phone usage across the network has been equivalent to communication on Mother's Day as the new coronavirus forces people to stay home.

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U.S. COVID-19 cases surpassed 46,000 as of Tuesday morning.

While the network overall has seen "moderate growth," cell-phone usage "patterns have changed dramatically," Vestberg said Tuesday on "Mornings with Maria."

Scott Sedlacek, who says he has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, wears a mask and uses his phone to film a news conference held March 11. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Vestberg said the network has delivered more than 9 billion text messages and 800 million phone calls every day that have lasted 33 percent longer on average amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

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"That's equivalent to Mother's Day or New Year's Eve, meaning this is the peak when people are communicating," Vestberg said.

The Verizon CEO explained that the mobile company's cell towers have picked up less movement from its nearly 119 million subscribers.

A woman browses her smartphone in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Additionally, mobile game usage has increased as much as 75 percent and virtual private network (VPN) usage has increased as much as 30 percent as more people work from home.

"We're coping with this without any major problems," Vestberg said, adding that Verizon's network was prepared to take on this kind of activity.

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Verizon announced a number of initiatives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a Monday press release, including a $500 million increase in its capital guidance range to $17.5 billion-$18.5 billion from $17 billion-$18 billion.

Extremely light traffic moves along the 110 Harbor Freeway toward downtown mid-afternoon, March 20, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The company also said it would be waiving overage and late fees, waiving internet and voice service charges for two months for Lifeline customers, adding 15GB of data for customers and small businesses and more.

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"For years we've seen a steady decline in the amount of time people spend talking to one another, especially on wireless devices," Verizon Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady said in a Tuesday statement. "The move to staying at home has reignited people’s hunger to stay connected, voice-to-voice."

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